GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
The Union government has decided to allow the import of crushed genetically modified (GM) soybean, which is a major ingredient of poultry feed.
What necessitated this move?
The poultry industry has been crushed by multiple disasters over the last year and a half.
- In January 2020, a false rumour that COVID-19 could be spread by eating chicken meat led to a crash in demand.
- A year later, avian flu cases led to another crash, followed by a crippling rise in the prices of poultry feed.
- Besides, over the last three to four years, soy meal has been available at an average cost of ₹34 to 36/kg. This month, it shot up to ₹96/kg (Soy meal is the main protein ingredient in the feed).
- Environmental activists have raised concerns about the permission given for something derived from a genetically modified plant to enter the human food chain, given that India’s regulatory system has yet to approve GM foods.
- Besides, the 1989 rules of the Environment Protection Act applied not just to GM organisms, but also products and substances thereof.
What are Genetically Modified crops?
- A GM or transgenic crop is a plant that has a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.
- GM crop can contain a gene(s) that has been artificially inserted instead of the plant acquiring it through pollination.
Approval Process for GM crops in India:
- The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops.
- Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs. 1 lakh under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is the authorised body to regulate the imported crops in India.
Status of GM Soybean and soyabean seeds in India:
India allows the import of GM soybean and canola oil. Import of GM soya bean seeds was so far not approved in India.
Did you know about the Poultry Venture Capital Fund (PVCF)? Reference:
Sources: the Hindu.